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Sarah Way house fire challenges crews

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Salt Spring Fire-Rescue had a challenging afternoon and evening on Wednesday when three different emergency calls pulled resources and energy from an aggressive structure fire.

Firefighters were initially called to a vehicle fire that was threatening a structure on Sarah Way around 4 p.m. on Oct. 4. The call soon went out for additional resources as the fire quickly spread up the home’s wooden siding and into the attic.

Salt Spring Fire Chief Arjuna George said the newer home of 3,500 to 4,000 square feet posed a challenge because of the roof height and because the fire moved into the interior. As well, human resources were stretched, with just 18 members, including technicians and tender drivers, on the scene.

“We were very, very taxed,” George said. “It was a very stubborn fire and it took a lot of effort to pull down the ceiling from inside.”

Firefighters on the scene faced exhaustion after serving in teams for spells of 17 minutes each. The air temperature was already warm for the afternoon, and the temperature inside the house was extremely hot, George said.

At one point the situation became too dangerous for crews to be inside and they had to withdraw for a period before they were able to safely regain the interior.

The situation was made more difficult by the need to respond to three other calls that evening, including a kitchen fire on Devine Drive. George said that call went relatively quickly as the fire didn’t get into the structure. Fire crews also attended a medical call and investigated commercial alarm bells while the Sarah Way fire was still involved. They were on the scene until 12:30 a.m. Thursday.

George said it was fortunate the fire department has a water storage tank in the neighbourhood just around the corner from the home, so tender shuttling was done quickly. They used between 10,000 and 15,000 gallons of water in the incident. As well, the house had a short and well constructed driveway with a turn around at the top, which helped efficient operations.

George said the fight would have been easier and potentially safer if the firefighters had had the ability to direct an elevated water stream onto the roof.

“It’s a very tough tactic for us because we just don’t have the ability to be at the level of the roof, so that was a challenge for us,” George said.

“Our crews did an amazing job facing a very challenging situation.”

One firefighter was treated on the scene for a minor burn. All firefighters went through a rehabilitation process after their shifts. No other injuries were reported.

In addition to Salt Spring Fire-Rescue, RCMP, BC Hydro and Emergency Social Services personnel attended the scene.

 

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